Should I diet before vacation?

If you mean, “Should I continue an existing diet/healthy habits I had for several weeks or months prior to vacation?” by all means, continue!

If you mean, “Will crash dieting and exercising like a maniac make me look lean for vacation?” then the answer is probably not.

Here’s why: A one or two week diet before vacation will cause you to shed mostly water weight and MAYBE a pound or two of actual body mass. You’ll look lean for your first day of vacation and by day two, after you’ve traveled, eaten a burger and poured back a margarita, you’ll be wondering why you’re bloated again. It’s just a given with extra salt and carbs in your diet and the change in your routine.

Personally I don’t think two weeks of starving and crazy workouts are worth it for one day of results and no long-term benefit. I wouldn’t do a two-week diet for the sole purpose of going on vacation.

If I happened to start a diet shortly before but unrelated to vacation, I would ease my way in and keep in mind that my results would be delayed because of my vacation.

When you return from vacation and notice bloating or a higher weight on the scale, don’t panic, don’t starve yourself, and don’t spend hours doing cardio. Your best bet is to drink a lot of water and get back to a healthy routine.

How do you prepare for vacation?

Stay fit,

Marisa

6 self-care activities I need to do

Today was one of those days when everything went wrong. I’ll try to keep the story short. My husband is building me a vegetable garden box. It’s supposed to have galvanized steel sides. Today it was my job to paint the steel black. I followed the instructions to wipe off the coating with a solvent, wipe it with hot water, thin the paint and set up the paint sprayer. It should have been easy peasy lemon squeezy, done in an hour. Instead, the paint sprayer decided to act more like a squirt gun than a fine mister and ruin everything. I was left with gobs of paint all over everything, including myself. I needed to use paint remover to salvage the steel siding, and of course I got that on skin which caused chemical burns. I had to make an extra trip to the hardware store to buy mineral spirits to finish cleaning the steel. I got behind on all my household projects and chores. I hadn’t eaten all day, so I went to the grocery store to get some food (and let’s be real – some wine, too). I came back to a mountain of ants in the driveway and cat vomit in the house. The day hasn’t ended yet, so I wouldn’t be surprised if something else happens. The kicker to all this is I didn’t have anyone around to help because my husband was working.

Since I spent part of the day in tears trying to clean up paint, I decided it was time for some self care. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be more intentional about practicing the six types of self care – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, social, practical. Here are my goals:

Physical: This one’s easy – stick to my training program.

Emotional: I’m going to make a better effort to step aside from situations that frustrate me by going outside and sitting on the porch while I drink a glass of water.

Mental: I am going to read for at least 30 minutes every night.

Spiritual: I am going to spend time in nature once a week. Preferably this will mean going for a walk on one of the trails where I live, but it could also be just sitting outside in my yard without my cellphone.

Social: I am going to have one friend date each week. I’m going to call my parents once a week.

Practical: I am going to make to-do lists that I can actually finish instead of endless ones that frustrate me because I can’t accomplish everything.

What are you doing to take care of yourself?

Stay fit,

Marisa

10 actions to be more confident

If you read my health story, you know I wasn’t always a confident person. I’ve become a much happier person in the past few years by gaining self-confidence. It didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of reflection, challenging myself, and frankly, sometimes telling myself things I didn’t really believe in order to change my own mind. I never really thought much about the actions I took to become more confident until I sat down to write this blog post. I was just doing them. But here’s what I did, and I hope these actions can help you get your confidence back.

  1. Write down the most common self-critical things you say or think. These can be negative things about your appearance, personality, skills or ways you undermine your own accomplishments. Now cross them out and replace them with positive things about yourself.
  2. Practice thinking and speaking positively about yourself. Start by catching your negative thoughts and replacing them with one of the positive things on your list. The next step is to stop criticizing yourself when you talk to other people. When you tell people about yourself, share positive things. People believe what we tell them about ourselves. If others hear that we don’t think much of ourselves, it will be hard for them to value us.
  3. Surround yourself with positive influences. Spending time around people who are constantly negative or self-deprecating makes that the norm in your life and makes confidence seem like a negative thing. When you surround yourself with positive people, you’ll start feeling more positive and realize that having confidence is cool.
  4. Speak positively about others. Complimenting others nurtures the positive environment you’re trying to build around yourself. It also will help you get in the habit of speaking positively about yourself.
  5. Be yourself. If other don’t like you when you’re being your true self, go ahead and cut them out of your life. You shouldn’t have to put on an act for people to like you. And you may be surprised that people actually like you just the way you are.
  6. Reach for low-hanging fruit. Get a jump start on feeling good about yourself by doing things that already work, whether that’s painting your nails or going for a walk.
  7. Set challenging goals. Doing something that’s difficult is one of the best ways to build your confidence, not only because you did the hard thing, but because you followed through on something and put in a lot of hard work to do it. If you don’t reach your goal, remember you may just need more time to keep pushing. Remind yourself that you’re able to do the hard work, which is an accomplishment all by itself.
  8. Trust your judgment. Asking for advice is fine, but be decisive and don’t seek approval for every decision you make. You may feel like you’re floundering at first, and that’s okay. Recognize that you’re a capable person who can make good choices.
  9. Get to know yourself. Take a moment to reflect on the negative things you think about yourself and the times you tell yourself you can’t do something. When and why did you start thinking this way? What can you do to overcome the reasons you think negatively about yourself? If you’ve lost yourself in trying to be everything for everyone else, learn about what you like to do, what makes you happy, and what makes you feel good.
  10. Develop skills and hobbies. If you’re lacking body confidence, work on physical skills like running or weightlifting so you learn to be proud of what your body can do. If you’re lacking confidence in your personality or skill sets, learn how to do something you’re passionate about and would love to share with others.

Which of these steps are you going to work on?

Stay fit,

Marisa

 

My body’s telling me no…

I’m calling it. I’m bowing out of the half marathon I’m registered for next weekend, April 15. In my last, post, I told you I had shin splints but was continuing to do my “runs” on the elliptical in hopes I would feel better and be able to race. Today was my drop-dead date. If I couldn’t do my 6-mile long run today, I decided I wasn’t going to attempt to race next Saturday.

My shins felt pretty good when I woke up today so I planned to run to the gym (3 miles), do 15 minutes of rowing and run home. I made it about three blocks before the shooting pains were too much.

Reluctantly, I decided I’m not going to try to race.

I have a lot of feelings about this, and most of them involve disappointment.

I’m disappointed in myself for not being able to finish what I started.

I’m disappointed in my body for failing me and for not being able to handle the training I had planned.

I’m disappointed that I posted a training plan on this blog and I got injured following it.

I’m disappointed that I won’t get a PR this race because I’m not running.

I’m disappointed that I paid for the race and now that money is wasted. (I’ll pick up my t-shirt but I don’t get the pretty medal for finishing.)

But I’m also proud of myself for recognizing my limits. In the past I probably would have raced anyway and injured myself more. I have other goals that are bigger than this race and getting injured won’t help me reach them. I’m registered for the Madison-Chicago Ragnar in the beginning of June. If I rest now and keep up my cardio endurance, I’ll be able to run with my team. I’d rather let myself down and skip this race than let down 11 Ragnar teammates.

I was thinking a lot about mental toughness and how most limitations when it comes to fitness (and life in general, I guess) are in your head. If you have the right mindset and block the self-imposed limitations, you can reach your goals. This is not one of those times. My limitation is physical. Having the right mindset means knowing that pushing through the pain and succeeding in the short term will hold me back from my other goals and impede my long-term success.

What’s next? I’m taking 4 more full weeks off from running and doing my cardio on the elliptical, stair climber or rower. I’m going to look into getting new pair of shoes. I’m going to continue with my lifting program and add some exercises to strengthen my shin muscles and calves.

With that, I bow out of the race.

Stay fit,

Marisa

How to support your partner’s fitness journey

Your partner just started their fitness journey. Alone. You’re not quite sure why, where you fit in or how to react. Here’s five things you can do to support your fit partner.

Ask them why they want to get fit.

I tried calling this bullet point a few different things, including, “Realize it’s not about you,” and “Don’t project motives,” but I didn’t want to be negative, and more importantly, those headings only represent part of the picture. Your partner probably isn’t getting fit to get the attention of someone new they want to hook up with or even so you think they’re hotter. They’re probably doing it to get healthier and feel better about themselves. But knowing that isn’t enough. It’s helpful to really understand the deeper “why” your partner wants to get in shape. Because 5 family members died of a heart attack before age 60, and at 40, your partner is starting to get nervous.  Because she was teased about being the “fat girl,” as a kid and always got picked last in gym, and even though she’s comfortable with her weight now, she’s still self-conscious that she can’t run a 5K.

Let them have alone time if that’s what they want.

We spend a lot of time thinking about what other people are doing for us and very little time thinking about what they’re doing for themselves. In my experience, spending a little time doing something just for you without having to think about someone else is a good way to get to know yourself and feel refreshed. Take a moment to think about that before you make your partner feel guilty about not heading home right after work or about later dinners. I’d even think twice before saying something like, “I miss you while you’re at the gym.” You may have good intentions and genuinely miss them, but try to survive that extra hour without making them feel like they should have stayed home instead.

Positive vibes only.

Say encouraging, positive things to your partner about their fitness journey. The obvious way to do this is to compliment how they look, but I challenge you to try some other forms of encouragement.

  • Tell them they seem more energetic or confident lately.
  • Congratulate them on a recent fitness victory or challenging workout they completed. (That means you have to ask about those things.)

Don’t be negative or a know it all. Avoid telling your wife she’s going to look manly if she trains chest and shoulders. Don’t tell him that dessert is going to ruin his progress. Don’t tell her she’s doing something all wrong or that you know the better way to get in shape, even if you’re pretty sure you’re right. Especially don’t do these things if your partner is newer to fitness. Part of the journey is navigating on your own and being proud you did it. The only exception I can think of is if you see your partner doing something in the name of health that’s actually dangerous.

Ask how you can get involved.

If you’re feeling left out because your partner started their fitness journey without you, ask if you can workout with them or get involved in some other way. Brace yourself. Your partner may not want to workout with you – see my second point. If that’s the case, talk about how you can start your own parallel fitness journey or be a supporter of theirs. Maybe your partner doesn’t want to run with you every day, but if you’re interested in running, you could sign up for the same 5K. She may not want to lift weights with you but she’s okay going to the gym at the same time. You have completely different exercise styles, but once or twice a week you can deviate from your normal routine and bike together. You can learn to prepare healthier meals, stand at the finish line of their race or make sure you’re home at a certain time so your partner doesn’t have to haul to children to the gym Kids’ Club.

Address your own insecurities.

Shall we address the big tomato in the room? (Any Parenthood fans?? Anyone?) Some people struggle to support their partner’s fitness journey because of their own insecurities. “He’ll realize he’s too good looking for me.” “She’ll like all the attention from other dudes.” “I don’t understand why my partner started this without me.” “My partner doesn’t like spending time with me anymore.” If this is you, please try to own it and admit it instead of being negative and unsupportive of your partner. Please don’t try to take something positive your partner is doing and make it something negative about you. I know this will be hard to do, but an honest conversation is the best way to address insecurities. You and your partner can work through insecurities together (everyone has them!) before they put a big strain on your relationship.

How do you support your partner through their fitness journey? How does your partner support you?

Stay fit,

Marisa

Photo credit: Pexels stock photo

Can you love your body but still want to change it?

I love my husband, but I wish he would stop forgetting where he left the cotton swabs he used to clean his ears.

That’s not an essential change he must make for me to love him, but still, wouldn’t it be nice?

I feel pretty much the same way about my body. I love it, but I wouldn’t be mad about seeing changes in some parts. So to answer the question posed in the title of this post, yes, I think you can love your body but still want to change it. Here’s why, a bit more specifically.

Loving my body isn’t just about looks. Or strength, or speed, or health. It’s about all those things and more. If one of those things isn’t where I want it to be, there is still a lot to love about my body. Some days, what I love about my body is the simple fact that it’s giving me life, and that’s enough.

I’m allowed to be disappointed in things I love. Going back to the husband analogy, I’m allowed to be angry with him, disappointed in him, and I can even ask him to think about changing certain behaviors that particularly bother me. None of those things mean I don’t love him. I’m allowed to be disappointed that I’m not getting stronger or faster, or annoyed with a stubborn body part that won’t shrink or grow, and that doesn’t mean I don’t love my body.

Loving my body means I take care of it. Love means more to me than just being happy. Love is an action. Loving my body means I take care of it whether I’m happy with it or not. Loving my body means I’m nice to it. I can still do the action of loving my body at the same time I’m trying to change it. In fact, if I was neglecting my body, changing it by starting to take care of it can be an act of self-love.

I know that changing my body won’t necessarily make me love it more. I’ve often seen people reach their goal weight and still feel unhappy or get their goal body and still think they had a lot more work to do. I was one of those people. Once I figured this out, it was a lot easier for me to decide to love my body unconditionally, all the time, and take the stress off myself when it came to changing it.

My body is changing anyway. Whether I’m trying to change it or not, my body is always changing and will continue to do so. It will change because of age, exercise, food, children, and the list goes on. I don’t have the option of picking a goal body and maintaining that appearance forever. That body exists for a brief point in time. If that’s the only form of myself I can love, I’m in for a lifetime of disappointment. Therefore, I choose to love my body in all its forms and changes, planned or unplanned.

What do you think? Can you love your body while still trying to change it?

Stay fit,

Marisa.

Weightlifting and better body image: A self-love story

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s a little self-love story about a selfie.

I took this selfie last week because that’s what people in my generation do. We take selfies. Come at me.

I wasn’t looking to share it. I was only hoping to capture myself at a moment in time and see how my body had changed since I jumped full speed ahead back on the power lifting bandwagon this year. I wasn’t too pleased with what I saw. Thick waist. Thick arms. Do you even have hamstrings? Do you even lift?

The selfie was soon forgotten as I went to the gym with a lot of anxiety about the heavy squats written in my program that day. Long story short, I progressed through my sets of heavy squats with ease and hit a new PR of 160 lbs. for one set of three with my trainer as a spotter/witness.

I looked at that selfie again while I was stretching after my workout. No longer did I see a thick waist and arms. I saw a badass strong woman with a bumpin’ booty and killer quads who just squatted 160 lbs.

This is why I lift. For me, and for a lot of women who lift, the pride of reaching an appearance goal or a body measurement goal could never compare to the sense of accomplishment we feel when we grow stronger.

This is what gets women hooked on weightlifting. My body image was in a dark place when I started, and I don’t think that’s unusual for women who start lifting. When you’re new, you hit PRs on PRs on PRs. It feels amazing. You want more. Your focus starts to shift solely from how your body looks to what it can do. By then you’re hooked and you keep lifting, even when the PRs start to slow. And soon enough, you’ll probably start to notice your appearance has transformed as well.

Stay fit,

Marisa